Feature: Crowded shelters leave evacuees disgruntled ahead of Hurricane Irma landfall

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-10 21:35:04|Editor: Yurou
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MIAMI, the United States, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- "The condition there is pretty terrible," Belkis Lobaina told Xinhua Saturday at a shelter in the southwest of the city in the U.S. state of Florida.

At the South Miami Senior High hurricane shelter, more than 800 locals who sought refuge as Hurricane Irma looms crammed into its classrooms and corridors.

Makeshift mattresses, desks, chairs and luggage littered the ground of the three-level building, leaving only narrow pathways for people to navigate the mess.

A 52-year-old Guianese, who only gives his name as Ramnaraine, told Xinhua that despite the fact that the shelter had reached its capacity a long time ago, more and more evacuees are shuttled here, squeezing the space of earlier arrivals.

"I couldn't sleep, and there's no privacy," Ramnaraine said.

At a nearby shelter that was the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition, which is housing more than 1,200 people with a capacity of 500, Max Boubee was walking his dog.

"I came here because it is a pet-friendly shelter," Boubee, who is here with his wife and four children from Bay Harbor, said.

Kennels took up about one third of the space, releasing an odor that blanketed the entire hall. Cloths were draped over some of the kennels to keep the animals calm, but the constant barking throughout the center was still hard to ignore.

Boubee said he can bear the smell and the noise, but admitted that living under the same roof with so many animals "is not fun."

To add to the discomfort, the American Red Cross, which is running the facility, is not properly feeding those in the shelters, many complained.

"We are only getting limited food here," Ramnaraine said, adding that the quota for each person was a cold sandwich and about an ounce of juice per meal. "That was it, no second servings."

"We need more food in here," Lobaina said, "hot meals like rice and beans."

For those sheltered in the exhibition hall, there is no breakfast, only lunch and supper.

Across the state of Florida, which is expected to be entirely impacted by extreme weather, 6.3 million people were under mandatory or voluntary evacuations, the Florida Division of Emergency Management said Saturday.

While most of those evacuated chose to stay with relatives or friends, and some reserved local hotel rooms in sturdy buildings, about 75,000 people were admitted to shelters across the state, putting a strain on the already stretched disaster relief resources.

In Miami-Dade County, one of the regions that is forecasted to be one of the most heavily hit, 42 shelters have been set up.

Despite the evacuation orders, those who are most vulnerable to the incoming storm may still lack protection, according to local media.

Homeless people can still be seen wandering the streets of Miami, lacking information on where the shelters are or the means to get there. Requests to help the homeless were denied by the police, who said they are not processing those kinds of calls, local NBC 6 TV station reported.

As clouds accumulate over Miami, strong gusts and winds can be felt, a foretaste of the more deadly winds and storm surge soon to arrive.

"I don't know whether I will have a home, after the storm passes," Boubee said, as he and his dog went back into the shelter, which can keep him safe, at least for now.